Microsoft Windows Intune: For Managed Services Providers?

Microsoft Windows Intune: For Managed Services Providers?

Microsoft continues to bang the drum -- quietly but steadily -- for Windows Intune, a forthcoming remote management platform for Windows PCs and servers. Several MSPs say Microsoft demonstrated a Windows Intune beta during the recent Xchange conference in Dallas. Were MSPs impressed? Here are some thoughts, plus MSPmentor's perspectives.

First, the high-level overview: Windows Intune is a SaaS-based service in beta now. Microsoft says there are at least 10 reasons why customers and managed services providers will ultimately adopt Windows Intune. Microsoft has also developed a 44-page [download id="4"].

Xchanging Thoughts

So how is Windows Intune shaping up? And how are MSPs reacting? According to one MSP who allegedly saw the Windows Intune demo at Xchange:
"It was clear that Microsoft is targeting a tool that would be utilized by its MSP / IT Services partners.  While its young and immature, it has the capabilities to become a full RMM (remote monitoring and management) tool.  The out of the box functionality was impressive.  It lacks in a lot of areas that current Kaseya / Level Platforms / N-Able can do, but is off to a strong start in some areas."
Over time, the MSP says, he expects Windows InTune to gradually compete more and more with the established RMM players. The MSP asserted:
"If I were working for an RMM, I would be sitting up a bit straighter in my chair, much in the way that VMware must have when Microsoft rolled out Hyper-V.  No one is taking Hyper-V seriously in the present, but we all know sooner or later their goal is to put vmware out of business."

Reality Check

Still, it's important to note that most of the major RMM vendors have decent to strong relationships with Microsoft. Plus, I wonder if Microsoft thinks the MSP market is large enough to aggressively target? Seems to me that most of Intune's focus remains on end-users rather than channel partners as users.

Also, multiple executives who have participated in Microsoft's Windows Intune demonstrations say it's far too early to predict if Windows InTune will deliver on its technical promises.

During the CompTIA Breakaway conference in early August 2010, Ross Brown, VP of worldwide partner sales, Microsoft, described Windows Intune as Microsoft System Center for the Cloud.

But therein resides the challenge: Windows Intune is designed for Windows-centric servers, desktops and mobile systems. At a time when MSPs increasingly manage Linux, Mac OS and perhaps even Google Android systems, I wonder if Intune's intense focus on Windows will hold the platform back.

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